[extropy-chat] Tyranny in place and AGI / the "Military Commissions Act" of 2006
mfj.eav at gmail.com
Sun Oct 8 15:58:08 UTC 2006
Yes I agree that the new war to end war is the race to develop autonomous
general artificial intelligence (AGI).
Like any child, the mores of the parents may be critical to an AGI's
juvenile developing years.
So, the source code and other methods that can give it a positive worldview
are critical to its handling of its human relations in a pro-human manner.
It appears to me that each major nation state will ramp up programs to
develop an AGI which incorporates their societies cultural worldview.
Given our great reliance on electronic mediated communication an AGI could
carefully manipulate individual life outcomes
if it deemed that to be useful towards accomplishing a larger plan.
The key to friendly AGI staying friendly is to keep its thought processes
and actions as transparent as technically feasible.
Security and secrecy firewalls in place today allow every one privacy,
except those who are deemed ultra vires of this
requirement. If only a handful of military , government, and corporate
persons are going to have a transparent
window of oversight and communication with the AGI , this group becomes
If power corrupts and ultimate power ultimately corrupts, one solution is to
eliminate privacy and secrecy to eliminate
The other factor with AGI's is whether like in the 1970's movie "Collosus,
the Forbin Project" individual AGI's will collaborate
and rationally manage human differences or whether they will retain the
desire for terrritorialism and domination which has caused
their human creators to make war.
As we create AGI in our own image, let us not allow human history to repeat
The Terrorists Win
By Michael I Niman ArtVoice (etc.) 10/5/06
Last week was one that will go down in infamy as one of the most important
and shameful weeks in western history. While future Americans might not be
allowed to freely discuss such subversive topics as history, school children
in other countries will learn what happened in the last week of September,
2006. A mere five years after a band of razor wielding two-bit terrorists
declared war on America by destroying the World Trade Center, both houses of
the US Congress finished their job and voted to end all pretenses of
democracy and begin the transition to an imperial form of governance backed
by state terror.
Habeas Corpus: 1215-2006
On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of last week, while most Americans were
busy discussing the possibilities of the new football season, the US Senate
and Congress voted on and passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Of
course, unless you're reading The Christian Science Monitor or Al Jazeerah,
you probably weren't even privy to the proper name of the bill that ended
our 791 year-old British-American legal tradition of Habeas Corpus – the
foundation of all human rights legislation since before the Magna Carta.
Habeas Corpus, which is Latin for "you may have the body," is, according to
the US Supreme Court, "the fundamental instrument for safeguarding
individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action." It is the
basic requirement, formerly at least rhetorically respected, by almost every
legal system on earth, that states that people who are arrested must be
charged with a crime, and eventually have their day in court to defend
themselves. The British Parliament adopted Habeas Corpus as the law of the
land across the empire in 1679, while historians trace the first appearance
of Habeas Corpus in British law to 1215. The Military Commissions Act of
2006 ends all of that, placing the United States at the bottom of the dung
heap when it comes to legal protections of the most basic of human rights –
the right not to be "disappeared" by one's own government.
On the subject of disappearances, it seems all references to The Military
Commissions Act of 2006 were preemptively disappeared before the bill was
voted on. Talk about obfuscation – according to a Lexis/Nexis database
search of all major US newspapers, only five articles mentioned the bill by
name, and of the five, only two mentioned it before it was voted on.
Quisling Genuflection to Fascism Bill of 2006
The rest of the US press, according to another Lexis/Nexis search, made up
euphemistically loaded names for the bill, such as The Detainee Bill,
Interrogation Legislation, or the Terror Bill, as if this law would only
affect "terrorists." Of course, all this confusion made it quite difficult
to locate a copy of the actual bill before it was voted on, and to locate a
roll call for the vote after it was passed. It shouldn't require a sleuth to
find out something as simple as the name of the bill that essentially ends
our pretenses toward democracy. In any event, I'll join the rest of the
press corps and rename the bill for my own purposes as well, hereon in
calling it the Quisling Genuflection to Fascism Bill of 2006, which I'll
simply gloss as the "Quisling Act."
According to the New York Times, the Quisling Act (s3930) creates an
undefined category of people called "enemy combatants," a designation which
can be arbitrarily doled out by the Bush administration or their minions.
According to The Times, once designated as an enemy combatant, a person can
be subjected "to arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal."
The bill strips the legislative branch of government of any oversight over
disappearances ordained by an imperial presidency. According to The Times,
All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him
[sic.] an illegal combatant . . ." With the elimination of Habeas Corpus,
the Times points out, the disappeared "would lose the basic right to
challenge their imprisonment."
And while in prison, the Quisling Act allows for the disappeared to be
tortured and gives the Bush administration the legal authority to decide
what does and does not constitute torture, while drawing the line only at
rape, murder, waterboarding and a few other of the more vile acts American
interrogators have recently been accused of. Of course, if someone else, say
the "democratic" government of Iraq, waterboards a prisoner, the Quisling
Act states that any testimony obtained can be used as evidence in American
courts. The bill doesn't specifically mention beating detainees with pikes,
stretching them on racks, or feeding them to lions – so the ultimate
determination as to whether those forms of interrogation would be prohibited
lies with the imperial president.
A Law to Negate the Rule of Law
The Quisling Act brings the US into uncharted legal territory. It essence,
it is a law to negate the rule of law. According to legal scholars, the Bush
administration can designate US citizens as enemy combatants using purposely
vague guidelines under which someone can be disappeared for lending an
undefined sort of material aid to a group or person unilaterally determined
by the Bush administration to fall under the "terrorism" rubric. The Bush
administration can also determine someone to be an enemy combatant for
"purposefully and materially supporting hostilities against the United
States." Of course, this term is not defined. And if you are disappeared for
allegedly providing such support, you will not have the right to argue that
It gets worse. Recent laws have attempted to define terrorism in corporate
friendly terms so that anyone protesting against commercial activities could
be designated a terrorist. Utah, for example, passed a "commercial
terrorism" bill that identified anyone picketing a business with the intent
of discouraging people from entering it, as engaging in terrorism. Under
this law, for instance, the now celebrated 1960 sit-in at a segregated North
Carolina Woolworth's lunch counter would be considered terrorism. If that
law and the new Quisling Act were in place in 1960, the four black civil
rights heroes who demanded their right to be served lunch along with white
patrons would have simply been disappeared off to gulags.
A federal court struck down Utah's law in 2001 and many people are certain
that the Supreme Court will strike down the Quisling Act. But, in case you
haven't noticed, the courts are a changing. The Supreme Court has nine
members. Four of them, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Bush appointees
Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito, have already shown themselves
to line up with the Bush junta even when this meant undermining the rule of
law. One more Bush appointee, and this could happen if the Republicans
retain control of the Senate, and the Supreme Court could swing to becoming
a 5-4 rubber stamp for whatever insanity the Bush administration sends their
So lets go back and revisit what constitutes a terrorist supporter – someone
who, under the laws passed this week, can be disappeared into a system of
secret Gulags. Journalist Robert Parry points out that in a recent speech
given by George W. Bush in the lead-up to the fifth anniversary of the 9/11
attacks, he blamed the Russian revolution and the rise of the Nazis on the
fact that no one took out Lenin when he first stated publishing pamphlets on
communism, or Hitler, when he first started writing about Nazism.
Hence, it appears, Bush is now advocating preemptive strikes against speech
– what Parry calls, the end of free speech and free thought. According to
Parry, Bush's fantasy of "wiping out some future Lenin or Hitler would
require killing or imprisoning anyone who wrote about political change in a
way that rulers considered objectionable at that time." Such "predictive
assassination," Parry argues, might kill, along with a Hitler or a Lenin, a
Mandela or a Jefferson.
And if you're wondering who the new targets for predictive assassination
might be, you don't have to look too far. In the same September 5 th speech
(available at whitehouse.gov), Bush warns that intelligence evidence shows
"al Qaeda intends to [launch], in [bin Laden's] words, 'a media campaign to
create a wedge between the American people and their government.'" Bush goes
on to explain that such a campaign would paint the War on Terror as causing
financial losses and casualties, ultimately, with the aim of – and he
explains that these are bin Laden's words – "creating pressure from the
American people on the American government to stop their campaign against
Duck and Cover
Get it. It's the free press, reporting ridiculous notions about the costs of
war, and perhaps its ineffectiveness at making us safer from anything, that
are out there supporting hostilities against the United States by spreading
what Bush deems as al Qaeda propaganda – or more accurately, by reporting
the news of the day. How much more clear does the writing on the wall have
to be? Why were we supposed to think it was a joke when Bush, early in his
judicially imposed presidency, said that things would be a lot easier if
this was a dictatorship, as long as he was the dictator.
The Quisling Act isn't about locking up terrorists. We've always done that.
It's about locking up innocent people. People who can't be convicted of a
crime because there's no evidence that they committed a crime. This is the
only new class of people who will be detained under this new law – people
who were never, nor would they likely ever be, convicted of a crime. This is
a bill about locking up innocent people and terrorizing the population by
holding the threat of disappearance and torture over our heads.
The Senate approved the Quisling Act 65-34, with 12 Democrats joining in
with an almost unanimous pack of Republicans. The Congress approved it
250-170, with 34 Democrats supporting the Republican mob. Among them was
Buffalo's own Brian Higgins. Shame on us.
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